It has officially stopped snowing and all thoughts are on the warm weather ahead.

Summer is a season full of sunshine, late nights with friends, and the best fashion looks. If you still haven’t decided on your go-to shoe for the warmer months coming up, reaching new heights in cork high heels might just be what you’re looking for.

An iconic Ferragamo wedge heel using bright colours and metallic gold finishes, from 1938

The introduction of the wedge heel, as we know it today, can be credited to Salvatore Ferragamo, an Italian shoemaker. He loved footwear, and was already designing shoes as a child. This passion would only intensify in the years to come. His ideas and innovations would make a mark in fashion history, and completely change footwear (Dudbridge).

Salvatore Ferragamo, an iconic designer and shoemaker

In the late 1930s, there were economic restrictions placed on Italy under the fascist ruling, and Ferragamo was unable to buy steel for his shoes from Germany. He had to think outside of the box, as this was a key material used in the creation of his heels (Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, 2019). His alternative was absolutely genius.

Patents showing the diagrams and construction of Ferragamo’s signature wedges from 1937 and 1938

He used Sardinian cork (from oak grown on an island in the Mediterranean Sea) and started “pushing and gluing and fixing and trimming until the entire space between the sole and the heel was blocked solid” (Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, 2019). This had never been seen before in the fashion world. Little did Ferragamo know, wedges would be the most popular shoe style of the 1940s (Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, 2019).

Making a statement in red wedges with a gold buckle and a peep toe, 1938

Neutral wedges that could be worn for a more casual, everyday look, 1937

Ferragamo continued to experiment with different variations of the wedge, always infusing his own artistic twist. He was inspired by modern art, including the design used in architecture (Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, 2019). His shoes were ornate and totally couture, crafted from natural materials, such as cotton, wool, hemp and broom plant fibers (Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, 2019). The cork used in these heels was light, but also very resilient and sturdy (Ambrose).

A Ferragamo heel using raffia and cork from 1942

Ferragamo’s heels were produced using natural materials, 1941

Ferragamo used natural materials for constructing his shoes, such as fish skin; 1941

So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to make the statement of the season, wearing these fashionable, (and also comfortable) shoes!

Ornate, bedazzled red wedges called the “Maharani” after the the Indira Devi, Maharani of Cooch Behar, 1938

I mean, who wouldn’t want to step into summer 2019 looking like this?

1940s summer outfit, complete with high heel wedges

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